Light sport aircraft market: the main players

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The Contenders

Big names in small aircraft

Flight Design

This German manufacturer's composite two-seater aircraft have consistently been top sellers in the US light sport aircraft market. Selling ultralights and LSAs throughout the world, Flight Design is making a concerted effort to break into emerging markets, such as China and India. It recently obtained design organisation approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and is working on a new, fully certificated four-seater.

Czech Sport Aircraft (CSA)

Founded by American Chip Irwin in Kunovice, Czech Republic, CSA has had a turbulent history involving several shareholder battles. In January 2010, it sealed a distribution deal with Piper, rebranding its aircraft as the Pipersport. Twelve months later, in January 2011, the relationship ended abruptly and CSA's aircraft now carries the original "Sportcruiser" brand. However, it continues to benefit from the strong dealer network that Piper built during the two companies' involvement. Offering solid aircraft designed by Milan Bristela and Chip Irwin, Czech Sport Aircraft is in the process of obtaining an EASA restricted type certificate.

Cessna

Cessna's C162 Skycatcher project, announced in July 2007, is finally bearing fruit. With a backlog of more than 1,000 orders, and more than a year late, the Chinese-produced aircraft is beginning to be delivered in quantity. Over the project's life, hiccups have included two spin-related accidents during testing, but Cessna's manufacturing reputation, worldwide distribution network and Cessna pilot centres suggest this aircraft will be around for a long time. The Skycatcher's first European delivery is due this year.

Tecnam

A long-established Italian aviation powerhouse with more than 2,000 aircraft flying worldwide, Tecnam started in the ultralight business and now produces many fully certificated aircraft, including a Rotax-powered twin. It also builds components for Boeing, AgustaWestland, and others.

American Legend Aircraft

This outfit caters for those seeking an aerial motorcycle rather than sports car. With doors on both sides, the Legend Cub offers an almost open cockpit experience. As with the Piper original, the pitch is an authentic all-American experience, like a Harley Davidson. The Legend Cub, and other derivatives, fill the niche for people who enjoy low, slow, back-country flying.